Easy Peasy Pesto

August 30, 2012

Pesto is such a flavorful condiment, I honestly don’t know why I don’t make it more often.  The variations on this basic recipe are endless and the fact that there’s no cooking involved in preparing it, makes it perfect for whipping up on a hot summer day.  It’s so versatile it can be used on pasta, fish or even a burger.

Tell me, what do you like to serve your pesto on?

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Pesto spread on wheat buns for Portabello Paninis

Basil Pesto

printable recipe

  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor until finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and continue processing, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed, until the mixture forms a thick paste. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the Parmigiano. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve started making lunch for the ladies in the office and I’m a big fan of Meatless Monday.  So, when I needed something to pair with a Cream of Tomato Soup, these were the perfect match!  I threw together a batch of these ridiculously easy zucchini tots one evening to “test” the recipe to make sure they were good…and, my husband and I devoured the entire pan before they could cool. Needless to say, they are delicious.

Not only are these tots easy to prepare, they can be frozen and reheated in the toaster oven for a quick breakfast or afternoon snack. An added bonus is your family will love them and it’s an tasty way to sneak some veggies into the pickiest of eaters. Feel free to play around with the vegetable and cheese combos.  I think carrots, squash or broccoli would be great substitutions as would monterey jack, swiss or muenster.

Zucchini Tots

printable recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ onion, diced
  • ¼ cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray. Grate the zucchini over a paper towel. Pat the excess water out of the zucchini once grated. Combine all the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Fill the muffin tins with the mixture. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the tops are golden. Use a knife to help remove the muffins from the pan and enjoy!

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Mix all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl (I was making a double batch in this pic).

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Be sure to fill the tins to the top for a perfect-sized tot.

Check out more delicious #BackToSchool recipes from the #SundaySupper community listed below:

Please be sure you join us on Twitter throughout the day on Sunday. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 p.m. EST for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat where we’ll talk about Back to School Meals and ways to make meal time easier!

All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat! We’ll be sharing great recipes and tips all afternoon, and we’ll be talking all things Back to School Meals during our chat!

We’d also love to feature your Back to School Recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers!

A Meaty Marinara

August 24, 2012

The summer is winding down and it’s time to start thinking about cooler nights, college football and hearty meals to feed your family.  A good meat sauce is a great recipe to have in your back pocket.  It’s easy to make ahead of time and freeze in batches, so you can defrost it on a busy weeknight while boiling pasta. You can also throw together a lasagna, eggplant parm or another of your favorite Italian dishes once the marinara is done and bake that night, or put in the freezer to save for a night when you have less time to cook.

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Marinara over tortellini

Traditional Meat Sauce

printable recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 (29-ounce) can tomato puree
  • 2 (12-ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley leaves

Directions

Brown ground beef with minced garlic and salt and pepper, to taste. Drain ground beef and set aside.

Place oil and onions in a saucepan and saute on high heat until soft. Add all cans of tomato products and chicken stock. Add all other ingredients and heat through. Once hot, add the browned ground beef and simmer on low heat for approximately 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve over your favorite pasta, top with freshly grated parmesan and enjoy!

Panko Perfect Poultry

August 14, 2012

This easy recipe is the perfect starting point for any dish featuring fried chicken breasts.  You can top it with a melted lemon, butter, caper sauce to make it a schnitzel (which is what I did), slice it and toss with greens for a salad with crunch or throw in between buns for a classic chicken sandwich, with pickles, of course.  I prefer to buy the thin cutlets instead of pounding them out myself. This shaves about 10 minutes from your prep time and allows you to get dinner on the table that much quicker.  However you choose to serve it, this basic recipe calls for just a few ingredients that you’re bound to have in your cabinets, which makes it the perfect go-to week night meal when you think your only option is delivery!

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Fry the cutlets for three minutes per side

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The chicken should be perfectly brown and crispy before removing from oil.

Panko Crusted Chicken

printable recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ cup flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup panko (Japanese Bread Crumbs)
  • 1 pound package of thinly pounded boneless, skinless chicken cutlets
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup canola oil

Preparation

  1. Set flour, eggs and panko in three separate shallow bowls. Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess, then dip in the eggs and coat thoroughly with the panko.
  2. In a large skillet, heat canola oil. Add the chicken and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.

Curry in a Hurry

August 10, 2012

I absolutely love curry.  This chicken salad is super fast and easy to throw together in the evening and then perfect in a pita for lunch the next day.  You can make all sorts of alterations by swapping out the flavors of jam; I’ve used guava, mango and apricot.  I’ve also subbed chunks of pineapple for the golden raisins and toasted almonds for the cashews.  I chose to make a twist on Ina Garten‘s recipe by boiling and shredding my chicken, instead of baking it.  Either way, it will turn out great. This is the first chicken salad I’ve made with white wine and it really adds a nice zing, you should give it a try!

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A delicious lunch in the office

Curry Chicken Salad

printable recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup jam or chutney
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews
  • Whole wheat pitas

Directions

Place the chicken breasts in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil.  Boil for 15 minutes, then remove from water and shred with two forks. For the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, wine, chutney, curry powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth. Combine the chicken with enough dressing to moisten well. Add the celery, scallions, and raisins, and mix well. Refrigerate ovenight to allow the flavors to blend. Add the cashews right before serving,stuffed in half a wheat pita with lettuce.  Enjoy!

 

I’ve started preparing lunch for the ladies in the office, for a nominal fee, and this  was a hit last Monday.  The egg whites and cottage cheese make it so light and fluffy, but all the protein keeps you satisfied until lunch times  A vegetable soup (I made Cream of Tomato) or side salad rounds it out to a light and yummy #MeatlessMonday lunch.

For you Weightwatchers members out there, this recipe slices into 10 servings and at just 3 points a serving, you don’t feel guilty about diving into this healthy twist on a breakfast casserole!

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A healthy choice for breakfast or lunch!

Vegetable Quiche

printable recipe

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cup egg whites (I used egg white substitute)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1.5 cups shredded, reduced-fat cheddar
  • 1.5 cups shredded, Mexican-blend cheese
  • .5 cup 1% milk
  • .5 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • .5 tsp salt
  • 1 (16 oz) carton low-fat cottage cheese
  • cooking spray (I use my Misto)
  • 4 cups sliced zucchini
  • 1 medium baking potato, diced
  • 1 small Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 handful button mushroom, sliced
  • .5 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Beat eggs and egg whites until fluffy.  Add ¾ cup cheddar and ¾ cup Mexican cheese, milk, flour, baking powder, salt and cottage cheese.  Heat a large pan over med-high heat and coat with cooking spray.  Add zucchini through mushrooms and saute 5 minutes.  Add vegetable mixture and parsley to egg mixture.  Pour mixture into 3qt. casserole dish coated with cooking spray.  Top with remaining cheeses.  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, the drop the temperature to 350 and continue to bake another 35 minutes.  The casserole will be browned on top when ready.  Let sit and cool for about 10 minutes before slicing. The leftovers are great re-heated, so this recipe makes for a filling breakfast, or lunch, throughout the week!

I’ve had several people ask me for a good quinoa recipe lately, and this is the one I always recommend.  The lemon gives it a refreshing, summery taste and the mixture of toasted pine nuts, kale and quinoa give it a surprising heartiness that leaves you feeling full.  It’s great on its own, or alongside a tasty wrap to round out a healthy lunch.  This recipe is a great guide, because you can swap out different ingredients to change up the taste…use almonds or walnuts instead of pine nut, sub feta or cubed mozzarella for the goat cheese or even use a different grain, such as Farro, for the base.   The combinations are endless while staying healthy, delicious and budget-friendly.

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A satisfying choice for Meatless Monday

Kale & Quinoa Pilaf

 Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups salted water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and sliced into 1” ribbons
  • 1 lemon (Meyer, if you can find them) zested and juiced
  • 2 scallions,chopped
  • 1tbs roasted walnut oil (you can use evoo or sunflower oil, but the walnut oil really has a  great flavor)
  • 3 tbs toasted pine nuts
  • ¼ cup crumbled goat cheese

Bring the salted water to a boil and add quinoa. Cover and lower the heat to simmer.  Simmer 10 minutes, then top with chopped kale and re-cover.  Simmer 5 more minutes then remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine lemon juice and zest through goat cheese in a medium bowl.  Head back to the stove to check on the quinoa.  It should have absorbed all the liquid and you should be able to fluff it with a fork.  Mix the kale in with the quinoa, then pour over lemon/oil mixture.  You can serve immediately or chill overnight and have for lunch the next day. It’s great served warm or cold!

This week’s #SundaySupper topic was “What does Sunday supper mean to you and your lifestyle?”

In our home, Sunday is a day that we look forward to.  It’s a day we like to pack up our dog, kayak and a few friends and head to Stone Mountain Park for some outdoor fun.  Now, the end to a day of play in nature (and often times a weekend with a little too much fun ;o)  is always a hearty home cooked meal.  Once dinner is placed on the table, we rehash stories from the weekend and share what’s on the horizon for the days ahead.

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Kayaking at Stone Mountain with our pup not far behind

So, when a few weeks, ago my husband requested meatloaf, I knew just the recipe I wanted to try.  I came across it on one of my favorite recipe sites and had been wanting to prepare it for some time. Although I often think of meatloaf as a cold weather entrée, the blackberry bbq sauce on this one makes it perfect for a summertime meal. Of course I tweaked the original recipe a bit, as I don’t eat veal, I’m obsessed with Vidalia onions, I loooove garlic and I never buy whitebread.  I’d also like to add that it’s not only the bbq sauce that makes this recipe special.  I have never put milk in my meatloaf before and I am now a firm believer that it’s the secret to THE most moist meat you will ever eat.  Give it a try and I’m sure you will agree!

Meatloaf with Blackberry BBQ Sauce

Printable Recipe

Ingredients for meatloaf:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • 1 Vidalia onion, diced
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp each of salt and pepper
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¾ cup 1% milk
  • ¾ cup plain breadcrumbs

Ingredients for blackberry bbq sauce:

  • 2 Vidalia onions, peeled and quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups blackberries (if using frozen, like I did, make sure they are thawed)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbs ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • generous pinch each of salt and pepper

For the sauce:  Add all the bbq sauce ingredients to a blender, or food processor, and blend until smooth.  Pour into a small saucepan and heat on medium for about 20 minutes (if you have a splatter screen, now is a good time to use it).  After 20 minutes, remove from heat and set aside.

For the meatloaf:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the meatloaf ingredients together in a bowl until evenly distributed.  Fill a greased, 5×9 pan  with the meat mixture and  spread out so it’s even on top.  Spread about a half a cup of the bbq sauce on top of the meat and bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes.  Be sure to check on the loaf about every 30 minutes and when the sauce begins to turn brown on the top, place aluminum foil over the top to keep the sugars in the bbq sauce from burning.

Once the meatloaf is completely cooked, remove from oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.

When serving, pour some of the bbq sauce on top of the slices of meatloaf and serve with a couple hearty sides. I went with mashed potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts.

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Meatloaf: pre-oven

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Meatloaf: post-oven. Mmmm, check out that crust.

While you’re here, be sure to check out the amazing recipes that my fellow foodies in the #SundaySupper community have put together for today’s topic. They inspire me each week and I’m sure they’ll do the same for you!

A Phantastic Philly

July 24, 2012

So, a phew weekends ago, the Braves were playing sweeping the Phillies and during the Sunday game, the t.v. announcers were tossing out some interesting facts.  Apparently, the Braves hold the record phor the most Philly Cheesesteaks ordered while at the Philles’ stadium than any other team. Well, they went on and on about it and within a phew minutes, my hubby and I were drooling over the idea of a cheesesteak of our own.  So, I phound a couple of recipes, blended them…and added some slices of jalapenos (a secret phrom a chef at a restaurant I used to work).  What I ended up with is enough to make your phamily turn into philly phanatics!

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Cooking it up

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Toasty, mayo slathered bun

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You hit a home run when you serve this!

Philadelphia Cheesesteak with Garlic Mayo

  • 4 whole wheat hoagie rolls
  • 1 lb.deli roast beef, sliced thin
  • 1 tbs evoo
  • 1 tbs light butter
  • 1 onion (I’ve been using Vidalias for everything lately and they work great!)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (control the heat by including, or omitting seeds)
  • 4 slices american cheese
  • 1/4 cup light mayo
  • 1 garlic glove, finely chopped

Heat a pan on the stove on medium.  Add butter and evoo.  Once butter has melted, add onions and peppers.  Cook for about 10 minutes until all the veggies are soft.  Season with salt and pepper. Pushed vegetables to the side and add roast beef to pan and heat through until no longer pink.  Meanwhile, toast the hoagie rolls very lightly, smear them with the garlic mayo and top with the pepper, meat, cheese mixture.  Serve hot and with hot sauce, salt, pepper and extra mayo.

 

A Condiment with a Kick

July 18, 2012

This relish was served as a condiment at most of the restaurants throughout Belize.  If you like a little heat, then this is definitely something you might want to make a weekly batch of and keep on hand to use on, well…anything.  You can adjust the heat slightly by omitting the seeds of the habanero, but either way, it’s going to pack some kick.  We’ve used this on tacos, quesadillas, mole, enchiladas and more!

What will you serve it with?

Hot Habanero Relish

printable recipe 

  • 1 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 habanero, roughly chopped and deseeded (for less heat)
  • 2 tbs white vinegar
  • 1tbs water

Mix everything together in a small dish and refrigerate. The longer it sits, the bigger the punch it packs.

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Que caliente!

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